Who does Jesus want to hang out with?
It is definitely not the religious elites (although He does). Jesus has a message for me that challenges all of my religious righteousness and hypocrisy. Jesus is seeking out sinners, people who miss God’s goal for them. I should take note of this. It is important. Who do I like to hang out with?
By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story. | Luke 15:1-3 (The Message Bible)
The religious elites, of Jesus time, were grumbling. They took it all in and were scandalized at Jesus. They thought and said (on the principle that a man is known by the company he keeps) that He must have some secret sympathy with their character. The clear rebuke is that if Jesus hangs out with sinners (those who miss God’s goal), then Jesus must be a sinner as well.
They were saying it loud enough that Jesus could hear them. Jesus has good ears and can hear what I am saying. Nothing escapes His notice.
Well … Jesus isn’t going to let this pass.
No wonder the scribes and Pharisees were offended, for there was no place in their legalistic theology for a God that seeks out sinners. They had forgotten that God had sought out Adam and Eve when they had sinned and hidden from God. In spite of their supposed knowledge of Scripture, the religious elites (scribes and Pharisees) forgot that God was like a father who pitied his wayward children.
There are few joys that match the joy of finding the lost and bringing them to the Savior. “The church has nothing to do but to save souls,” said John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. “Therefore, spend and be spent in this work.”
So … Jesus tells 3 parables including the famous one of the prodigal son. I love the parables. We all do.
I miss the context of why they are told. They are told to rebuke my narrow thinking about who needs the message. It is not people sitting in the pews every week!